‘Understanding Feminism’: From the perspective of Judith Butler

Judith Butler is a well known figure in ‘Gender’ world. Her best seller ‘Gender Trouble’ Introduced her in this very popular area. Nobody attempted to ‘classify’ Judith butler in a sense where Julia Kristeva or Simone de Beauvoir were analyzed with rigor. Judith Butler is mainly a critique philosopher, who had substantially studied post-structralists like Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, and formed her own view on that basis. In this analysis, the details of her investigation will not be provided, but some of them will, which are related the idea of gender orientation and biases and how she believes one might have a solution against the ‘oppressing’ patriarchal society. In my opinion we should consider ‘Judy’ as a feminist, not because she implied any support for that, but for the ‘subversive acts’ that she encouraged to ‘fight back’ against the thousand year old patriarchal discourse, a discourse that is in the heart of modern civilization. Judith Butler argued that the fundamental problem of fighting against the ‘patriarchal discourse’ -a discourse that demands symbolic ‘Father’ as its root, not the abject ‘Mother’, is lying on the very fact that such argument still favors, still grounds its foot on a discourse based on ‘difference’, a difference in Identity, based on ‘sex’ or ‘biology’. In other words, to fight against the ‘gender difference’ in a society(an oppressing patriarchal society), the feminists based on their ground, a ‘primarily accepted ground of difference’, male vs female, in the first place, thus positing TWO ‘signifiers’ in the system which monstrously look for the ‘signified’, the Genders,  i.e, masculine and feminine, in its meta-stable chain., thus forming TWO Identities in the society, creating a Power gradient that essentially fostered patriarchal oppression.  In order to better understand Judith Butler, and compare her against the traditional feminists, one has to look inside the classicism of the psychoanalysis project starting from Freud, extending to Jacques Lacan, anti-psychoanalsis of Michel Foucault, and post structural spices of Julia Kristeva. Freud posited conscious and unconscious as TWO different identities, where Lacan showed that essentially these TWO identities are one and only one unconscious, and that unconscious created the other identities. Lacan introduced the Imaginary, and symbolic stage of the child where he entered the ‘culture’ by following the ‘Other’, by centering his efforts, by identification with father. Julia Kristeva kicked-in with her idea of ‘another origin’ as the ‘abject Mother’, the ‘Mother’ who was sacrificed for the child’s admission into the ‘culture’. According to Julia Kristeva’s hypothesis, one can return to this ‘Other Center, The ‘Mother’ only by ‘Maternity’ and ‘Poetic Language’. Judith Butler attacks(As she always attack other hypotheses!) Kristeva’s thesis by arguing that the ‘center of Kristeva’, the ‘Mother’ is an illusion, it pre-supposes the ‘Pre-law’, the ‘Father’, to be identified as ‘Another Center’. So the very idea of a ‘Unique
Center’, the ‘Mother’ in Kristeva’s hypothesis, coming from a pre-existing discourse for against which Kristeva was fighting originally. In other words, Kristeva’s feminism is grounded on ‘oppressing’ patriarchy; we are having the same ‘chicken-and-egg’ problems here. The same problem existed in Simone de Beauvoir’s project, where Simone tried to construct a female identity part of this binary pair where one side of it was biased/favored against the other. Instead, Judith Butler proposes some subversive practices (practices related to the anti-establishment of patriarchal discourse).Unlike some practices, offered by some critiques in this fields (for example applying incest taboo to subvert patriarchy, which again, according to Judith Butler, pre-supposes the existence of another discourse) she put her attention on the ‘significant’  level, where the signifiers (male body vs female body) will be ‘confused’ to establish ‘rigid’ identity boundaries at gender level(Feminine vs masculine), thus we will have lesser oppression. In other words, she prefers a ‘zig-zag’ between the pointers(signifiers) to unstabilize the system. She recommends to frequently apply ‘drag’ as a mechanism of subversions by the gender identities in the society. So, it should be our responsibility as female, oppressed identity in the society to take part in activities that will challenge the ‘origin of gender differences’. With the recursive practices for a long time, the signifiers created from biological discourse, will lose its strength, there fore, may give rise to a society where the oppression will be minimal.
 In conclusion, we see that a lot of theoretical and political efforts have been made to ‘ungender’ the society. We have seen feminist’s movement in seventies. We have been thrilled by the contribution of some feminists, feminist-scholars, other females in the society. In the area of Art, Science, technology, literature and essentially everywhere in the developed, developing and western world, we are having a ‘sense of progress’. But this very progress is rooted in the patriarchal foundation. Achieving a fair ‘un-gendered’ society was a ‘theoretical impossibility’ as laid by Lacan and as pointed out by Michel Foucault. Some feminist scholars addressed that issue, proposed their own views. But Judith Butler accepted that ‘patriarchal trouble’, this evil root as a ‘Pre-Law’, an unavoidable destiny for the civilization, but yet, she posited a hope for the fight back. This glance of hope, through the act of subversive mechanisms, show us how we can  improve the ‘gender-balance’ in the society. Thus in my opinion, Judith Butler is an embodiment of feminist diva, who shared her deep, remarkable  critiques against the traditional feminists and philosophers, pointing the direction of war at some other ends, new turns for the entire battle that can help us achieve for what we are fighting for thousand years.


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